Regional climate model projections of the South Pacific Convergence Zone.

Evans, J.P., K. Bormann, J. Katzfey, S. Dean and R. Arritt
Climate Dynamics, 47(3), 817-829, doi: 10.1007/s00382-015-2873-x, 2015.


This study presents results from regional climate model (RCM) projections for the south-west Pacific Ocean. The regional models used bias corrected sea surface temperatures. Six global climate models (GCMs) were used to drive a global variable resolution model on a quasi- uniform 60 km grid. One of these simulations was used to drive three limited area regional models. Thus a four member ensemble was produced by different RCMs downscaling the same GCM (GFDL2.1), and a six member ensemble was produced by the same RCM (Conformal Cubic Atmospheric Model—CCAM) downscaling six different GCMs. Comparison of the model results with precipitation observations shows the differences to be dominated by the choice of RCM, with all the CCAM simulations performing similarly and generally having lower error than the other RCMs. However, evaluating aspects of the model representation of the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) does not show CCAM to perform better in this regard. In terms of the future projections of the SPCZ for the December–January–February season, the ensemble showed no consensus change in most characteristics though a majority of the ensemble members project a decrease in the SPCZ strength. Thus, similar to GCM based studies, there is large uncertainty concerning future changes in the SPCZ and there is no evidence to suggest that future changes will be outside the natural variability. These RCM simulations do not support an increase in the frequency of zonal SPCZ events.

Key Figure

Fig. 6. Future mean DJF precipitation (mm/month) (2046–2065). The black dots indicate the location of the mean DJF precipitation maximum at each model longitude. The black line indicates the corresponding least squares linear regression. The light purple lines indi- cate the same linear regression performed on each individual DJF precipitation field

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